Clothesline: Two women’s drop-tail bibs put to the test

  • By Emily Zinn
  • Published Oct. 18, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM EDT
The Alp-X shorts unzip from both sides, starting in the back, so they can be pulled down and put back on without removing your jersey. A mesh panel runs up the spine and onto the straps to help keep you cool. Photo: Emily Zinn |

Gore Alp-X Lady bibs $189.99

Designed with a woman’s body in mind, Gore’s Alp-X Lady bibs tackle several anatomical particularities that concern women, and feature some added flourishes as well.

With a clasp in front to keep the straps on the breastplate rather than directly over the breasts and a hinge-and-zip system for natural breaks, Gore designers clearly started from the drawing board to make a true women’s bib.

Starting from the back, the Gore bibs unzip from both sides around the waist, until the shorts and the bib are essentially separate pieces except where both straps meet in the front. By unzipping the two pieces, the rider can pull the shorts down essentially as she would a pair of standard shorts, with no need to pull off the shoulder straps. The system is a great solution and on long rides these shorts were life savers.

The zippers lock, but when unlocked they unzip the moment you bend over, so be sure to flip them closed when you put the shorts on.

I expected the strap placement to be hot and sweaty, but they really didn’t keep my chest too warm and they fit so comfortably that I’ve since put clothes pins on many of my men’s bibs to accomplish the same result. The clasp sits at heart rate monitor level and never chafed me.

Interestingly, the Alp-X Lady bibs feature a pocket in the shorts, just the right size for a gel pack, on the right leg.

The chamois is the Alp-X Lady seat insert, Gore’s long-distance mountain bike chamois. As Gore claims, it is breathable, soft and quick-drying, but it is also a massive chamois that feels like a diaper. Call me out of touch, but wearing a bib and a diaper make riding a little too youthful. With thick, seven-inch-wide padding, it is no doubt comfortable for long days of seated climbing, but not for walking or running with your bike. Gore pegs the Alp-X Lady as a mountain bike chamois, but I wouldn’t wear it again for cyclocross or technical riding where I might have to push the bike. The insert would be well suited to multi-day tours, perhaps.

Gore offers a similar short, the Xenon 2.0 Lady bib short, with the Xenon Sonic Lady seat insert, which I haven’t tried, but Gore says it is more suited for general long-distance cross-country or road needs and appears better suited for walking. The Xenon 2.0 Lady shorts also offer the two-zip system and hook closure in the front, and to my eye are more attractive. They also lack the coarse, cross-hatched fabric panels that the Alp-X shorts have, which would be an improvement. They are available for $199.99, 10 dollars more than the Alp-X.

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FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Clothesline / MTB / Women TAGS: /

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn spent her infancy in the back of a women's team van while the team built wheels around her. She spent part of her pre-teen years in Europe following the major European mountain, road and gravity races and touring cycling product factories. College was the first time she lived in a home without a frame building shop in her garage or basement. Her favorite style of riding is getting lost in singletrack trail networks and taking her time finding her way back.

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